Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Five: Thanking God for You

Numbers three (right) and five (left) with me in the middle.
Number four, with Onkel Hankie Pants.
Number two, at Thanksgiving 1942.
Number one, with me. a long time ago.

Singing Owl at RevGalBlogPals quotes St. Paul and ruminates:

Phillipians 1:3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.

I'm musing about giving thanks for people today, partly because Americans celebrated our annual Thanksgiving holiday yesterday (I try not to just make this holiday "turkey day" even though its main feature seems to be eating till one is nearly comatose) and partly because I read the above verse this morning. It started me thinking about individuals in my life for whom I give thanks. For this post-Thanksgiving Day Friday Five, share with us "Five People For Whom You Give Thanks to God" and maybe tell us why they are significant.

I have many, many people in my life for whom I'm thankful, so it's hard to choose just five. I'm writing a bit about two who are gone and three who are still with us.

1. Thank God for Mama. My mother has been gone for 21 years now. I took her for granted for a long time, until I grew up and learned that some other people's mothers were not as loving, supportive, and generally non-neurotic as the one I was blessed with. I am grateful that I had her as long as I did even though I wish she could still be here.

2. Thank God for Grammie.
I also had the good fortune to be blessed with a very special grandmother. She did all the traditional grandmotherly things like knitting mittens, making quilts, baking molasses cookies, frying doughnuts, and making popcorn balls at Christmas. She also read widely, wrote and sold poetry and free-lance essays and articles, knew all the birds and plants and was a keen observer of nature on the farm. She never wanted to stop learning and connecting with new people. If she were alive now, I'm sure she would have a blog and a lot of cyberfriends and would be emailing her grandchildren and great-grandchildren regularly. She has been a model and inspiration for me and her other grandchildren always.

3. Thank God for Sisterfilms.
I have three children, and they are all my favorites for different reasons. But the youngest, known on these pages as Sisterfilms, calls me almost every day and so she is a daily delight. It wasn't always easy for her being the baby sister to two such strong and gifted personalities as SonShineIn and Cordeliaknits. Now, at almost 24, she is really coming into her own. She has astonishing insights into people, theology, films, music, and current events. AND, she says she'll take care of me when I'm old, if I need her to.

4. Thank God for The CPA.
My friend Constance, known on this blog as The CPA because that's her profession, is one of several friends I've had since eighth grade. I've written before about how these girls (as we then were) took me in as a new friend at a time in life when girls tend to be clique-y and not so nice. So I can't ever really choose a "favorite" among these oldest friends -- each has her own endearing qualities, and with all of them I have our years of history. But The CPA is special partly because -- as we all agree -- she is so good. She's the one who always responds to emails, who thinks of the thoughtful thing to do for someone who needs it, shares her financial expertise when asked, and who always loads the dishwasher because she's so good at it -- and then manages to sneakily finish the rest of the cleanup. Lest you think she sounds like an impossible goody-goody, that's not the case. She's also a lot of fun to be with, and can make a snarky comment when it's called for. Conversations with her are always stimulating, whether humorous or intellectual. I wish she didn't live on the Left Coast, but then again it's fun to visit her there and she does get out this way now and then.

5. Thank God for Punster Pastor.
For twenty-five years I was privileged to have Bob, here referred to as Punster Pastor for a tendency to pulpit punning, as my minister and friend. For most of those years we met monthly over the church newsletter. He baptized two of my children and confirmed all three; he helped both me and OHP grieve the deaths of our parents. Of course, a lot of ministers do that. But how many would know that the perfect gift for someone flying to her father's funeral (four months after her mother's) would be a packet of gum for the plane and a book of Ole and Lena jokes? They were exactly what I needed. Thanks, Bob, and thank God for you.

Things I Have Done -- a meme while waiting for Friday Five

Want to play? Copy and paste. Pick a color for the things that you have done. Mine are in vermilion letters.

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity

7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain (Fremont's Peak in California; Ehrenbreitstein in Germany. Big enough for me)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
3. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train (Many times, see "B is for Berlin" in old posts)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (at least not physically. When I was in school, my mother would write this excuse note: "Auntie Knickers was absent from school with my knowledge and consent.")
24. Built a snow fort

25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice 
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (just the short kind on rivers and lakes)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma 
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone - probably, in my foot, but didn't realize it at the time
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle 
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper (see photo - at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Memorial Day, 1961)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (just lobster)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury (was empaneled, but challenged off)
91. Met someone famous (Ray Milland, Ali McGraw, and Ryan O'Neal at a student journalists' promo for Love Story!)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby (three!)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

I'm not going to tag, just do what Processing Counselor did and invite you to play on your own blog or in comments. (Though i don't think you can change colors in comments, you'll have to use an asterisk or something. Or get a blog. It's easy. Really.)

Virtual Advent Retreat Coming Monday

On Monday, December 1st, RevGalBlogPals will be hosting a Virtual Advent Retreat.

Over the course of the day (early morning, late morning and mid-afternoon, Eastern Time), three facilitators will post reflection pieces on texts for Advent 2, 3 and 4. You may use the materials for contemplation or as writing prompts. Please feel free to leave comments or to link back to responses you post on your own blogs.

Kathryn Fleming, who blogs at Good in Parts will post first, about Advent 2. Songbird , who blogs at Reflectionary, will take on Advent 3. And Juniper, who blogs at Possible Water and had this idea in the first place, will write about Advent 4. It's a way to connect with one another and we hope will create both a "quiet day" and provide some resources and inspiration for the Advent season.

All are welcome to participate!  Just go to the RevGalBlogPals site and post your comments, or link to your own blog, following the directions given.  I plan to be participating as best I'm able.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Thoughts, tending toward randomness

Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers, and I hope the rest of you have a good day too!
I've just put the Sweet Potato-Peach-Cashew Bake into the oven and cut the Exquisite Chocolate Mint Sticks into bars(see above). The cranberry sauce appears to have jelled nicely and reposes in the refrigerator. In about half an hour I'll wake up Onkel Hankie Pants, who worked last night, and we'll get ready to go to Bowdoinham, where we will share Thanksgiving dinner with Uncle Nepco, Mama's Baby Sister, and their daughter, Monkees Fan.  I used occasionally to babysit for Monkees Fan when I was in town, and Mama's Baby Sister used to babysit for me.  Although MBS is a grandmother, and Monkees Fan still has children at home (they're with their dad today), we are more or less functioning as contemporaries now. It's funny, and good, how that goes.
I took Rusty for a walk down Maine Street just now. It was odd, and nice, to see everything so quiet (and also to know that that's not a permanent condition!) If I had gone a little farther, I suppose the 7-11 would have been open, and perhaps Dunkin' Donuts? The German restaurant where we had Easter dinner was advertising that they would prepare your meal, I know, but I can't recall if they also were going to be open -- I think not. The coffeehouse down near the supermarket is hosting a Thanksgiving meal by donation, to make sure people don't have to eat alone, and to benefit young adult programs at the library. And there will be a potluck Thanksgiving at church. I saw only three people not in cars -- one of the smokers at the assisted living place down the street exchanged Thanksgiving greetings with me, and one of her co-residents was being escorted to a car for a trip to dinner, probably by a sister. 
I wonder, if I end up in a place like that, will there be as many smokers clustering outside? I heard on the radio that smoking among adults is down under 20% of the population; unfortunately among teenagers it's a little higher than that.
My Exquisite Chocolate Mint Sticks turned out a little oddly. They taste fine (I am sampling one right now, "to see if it's fit to eat" as my mother used to say). But some are thicker than others. Put it down to astigmatism, I guess. We cleaned the (self-cleaning) oven yesterday, and when I put the racks back in, I got them tilted. Somehow I didn't notice that when I put the pan in. Fortunately it doesn't show as much once they are cut up and arranged on a nice plate I got from Brother #1 and The Herbalist last Christmas.  By the way, although these are a family favorite, from Marjorie Standish's Cooking Down East, they are not a traditional Thanksgiving treat. Monkees Fan specially requested them after tasting one of the leftovers from the last time I made them. We will have pies as well. (I am expecting there will be more than one pie, although only 5 at dinner. It's traditional. When I was growing up, in a family of seven, my mother always made at least a dozen pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas).
Well, Onkel Hankie Pants is up, humming "Over the River and Through the Woods" in the shower. We will cross at least two rivers, the Androscoggin and the Cathance, on our way to dinner. The Cathance had flooded fields on the Bisson farm yesterday when we went to pick up the fresh turkey; they're used to it, they say. The Androscoggin was roaring loudly as water rushed over the dam near our house on its way to the sea. We are fortunate today to have electric power, drivable roads, and no flooding; others in Maine are not so lucky. We also must stop to remember all those affected by the terrorist action in Mumbai, all those who do not share the bounty we enjoy, and all those far from home today, especially our servicemen and women overseas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BRP = Blatant Relative Promotion

It's a rainy, windy, dark November day here, and I'm not up to much. I am making a black bean soup with a hambone for supper, and later I'll probably do the cranberry sauce that will be one of my contributions to Thanksgiving dinner. I'm listening to my Thanksgiving playlist (see last year's Tunes for November posts for a list). Although I generally celebrate Buy Nothing Day on the day after Thanksgiving, I know that there are people out there thinking about Christmas shopping; and other kinds of shopping as well. We're all in a bit of an ambivalent mood about shopping right now. On one shoulder sits a creature whispering in our ear "Save your money! You're going to need it later!" and on the other sits another creature whispering, "Go out and support your local businesses, they need you!" Which is the angel and which is the devil? Who knows?

So, today I'm promoting the businesses of three relatives. If the things they're selling happen to be things you would like to buy (and in one case, you'll have to be in a certain geographic location), give them a try!

My cousin Pam "down to the shore" has had a thriving seasonal business for many years making wreaths for residents and businesses in the area. Now she's taking it to the next level and offering her beautiful wreaths online all over the country. I received one of her wreaths as a gift from her mother last year, and it was lovely. I believe there's a picture on one of last December's blog posts. Despite a cold, snowy, blowy winter, it lasted far beyond the time Onkel Hankie Pants deems acceptable for having a Christmas wreath up. Go to Pam's Maine Wreaths to see and, perhaps, order. Tell your friends and colleagues!

Speaking of OHP, his cousin Julie is the next relative I'm promoting here. This summer her second book for children, My New Best Friend, was published, and the first one, My Last Best Friend, is now available in paperback. Both books deal with the adventures of fourth-grader Ida May, who lives in a small town in Wisconsin. For anyone who has had or been a fourth-grader, these stories will ring true. The books are geared toward readers age 7-10, so if you have a gift recipient in that age group, give 'em a try.

Last but not least, my cousin Erica is involved with a fine little BBQ restaurant in Lewiston, Maine. It's right across from Marden's! (Mainers will know what this means). Here are some visuals from our most recent visit:

Onkel Hankie Pants and I both had the Two-Step Sandwich, in which one gets to choose two of the three available barbecued meats (beef, pork, chicken) and a side. OHP had beans and I had a really good potato salad. I greedily ate some of my sandwich before I remembered to photograph it. I have two sauces, spicy and mild, to mix.

I took some of my sandwich home so I'd have
room for dessert. This peanut butter pie was
extremely delicious, covered with a chocolate
ganache (I think that's redundant and ganache is
always chocolate).
Here is the lovely and talented Erica, chef, hostess,
and even waits tables at least for relatives. (By the way, as you'll see from their websites, Pam and Julie are also lovely and talented).

And here's the smokin' locomotive by which you will recognize the place.

So if you're in or near Lewiston, this is the place to go for some fine barbecue. They do catering, too!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Five: Mix and Stir Edition

Oh dear! Over at RevGalBlogPals, Songbird tells us:

In a minor domestic crisis, my food processor, or more precisely the part you use for almost everything for which I use a food processor, picked the eve of the festive season of the year to give up the ghost. A crack in the lid expanded such that a batch of squash soup had to be liberated via that column shaped thing that sticks up on top.

Can you tell this is not my area of strength?

Next week, I'm hosting Thanksgiving. I need your help. Please answer the following kitchen-related questions:

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it?
Oh yes. In fact we have two! The big one now lives in the pantry much of the time, but it's invaluable when I do get it down. It's an 11-cup Cuisinart that we bought not long after the Great Big Mall opened near City of Lakes. I use it especially for making piecrust, grating potatoes for latkes and at other times when a recipe says to use one. When we moved here, Onkel Hankie Pants prevailed on me to get a KitchenAid mini-processor which doesn't take up as much room on the counter. I use it very frequently for chopping onions and similar tasks which I wouldn't use the big one for. Both of them work quite well.
Oddly enough, I was making squash soup yesterday too! But the recipe told me to use the blender, so that's what I did, ladlefull by ladlefull. The recipe (from church) also encouraged the use of a handheld stick blender, which would have been nice but I don't have one.

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).)
Mine came with three discs for slicing and julienning, plus a plastic blade which I'm not sure I've ever used. I don't do a lot of julienning, but I do use the slicing disk, especially when I maked scalloped potatoes for the shelter -- 24 servings is a lot of slicing but it goes really fast with the processor. I don't know if this makes any sense, but when it comes to electric things I feel the simpler the better, so I prefer to have a mixer, a blender, a processor rather than one item with a lot of attachments.

3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties? Both, actually. The standing mixer lives in the linen closet most of the time (when we got a toaster-oven, it needed to move) but I like it for making big cakes and cheesecake. The hand-held mixer lives in the cupboard by the refrigerator and is used much more frequently. I got the stand mixer from a refurbishing place in Florida over the 'net. I was happy to have it, but soon realized it was not ideal for some of the most common tasks, such as making whipped cream (unless you're having about 40 people for strawberry shortcake!) So, the handmixer, same brand.

(And isn't that color delightfully retro?) Songbird posted a photo of a beautiful aqua KitchenAid, but I am posting a different retro color, which is the one Sisterfilms will be receiving soon. I won it in a sweepstakes drawing at an online cooking store and got to choose the color, so I asked her which she wanted and she chose this. It's been waiting in its box ever since for the kitchen at Chez Landlord to be ready to receive it, and it's going to be wending its way there very soon now!

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much? Yes, we have one. The first one we bought in 1975 to make baby food for SonShineIn (aka Comrade Landlord) and it lasted until just a few years ago. The base was Harvest Gold! (Another kind of retro, I hope it never comes back!) A couple of years ago I got a new one, same brand, for Christmas because OHP wanted to be able to make smoothies. It came with a mini-processor attachment which I'm not sure we've ever used. I used it for the squash soup pureeing, and I also use it to grind up the crumbs for aeblekage.

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most? I don't know how old-fashioned it is because it does have silicon-covered wires, but I love this little whisk for making white sauce, gravy, etc.

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it? I was going to say my trussing needle, but actually I do use it sometimes for roast chicken. So I'll have to go with the rosette irons that I've only recently begun using to make these amazing Christmas treats. Well I remember my first sight and taste of one at the Christmas concert at Salem English Lutheran Church in Waseca, MN! It was very un-Minnesotan of me to grab the only one on the plate.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thoughts on a set of bookends

At the Halls of Holly Fair at church, we had long tables to put the books on, and no bookends. Well, we had one pair. One of the people working on the Attic Treasures area brought these down because they were broken and therefore unsalable. One of the sombreros was held on with tape, and there were a couple of chips as well. After the sale I got to take them home, and a little epoxy glue has reaffixed the sombrero. They will help a little on my basement bookshelves -- I only need about 29 more pairs now.

I wondered if it was just the brokenness that caused these to be deaccessioned by their previous owner. The image of the lazy Mexican man sleeping under his sombrero was quite a common one in the 1950s, perhaps even more than the little black jockey some people had in their front yards. I'm sure you can find these images even now in vintage shops, arrayed on tablecloths and dishtowels as well as sculpted into bookends. And, of course, there was this song, made famous by a blonde girl from North Dakota:

I can't imagine someone recording a song like this today and having it become a nationwide hit (then again, with the fragmentation of musical tastes and genres, has there been a nationwide hit since The Macarena?)
Even a lot of the comments on YouTube referenced the racist attitudes in the song, liking it in spite of themselves and also because Peggy Lee sang it. I'm not sure if non-Hispanic people in the 50s really bought this stereotype. Many were exposed to Mexican migrant workers, certainly some of the hardest-working people you could find. Not only in the borderlands, but even in St. Paul, Minnesota, there were Mexican-American communities as industrious as the Scandinavians and Irish who were their neighbors. And yet -- are old images and attitudes like those evoked by the bookends and the song, part of the reason there is so much resentment against illegal aliens (who are thought of as primarily Hispanic) in some communities? I read about two complaints: one is that illegals take jobs away from Americans, but the other is that they will use services that Americans pay taxes for (i.e., they are lazy). It's a puzzlement (to quote another 50s song). A lot of thoughts for one pair of bookends.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday Activities

I spent several hours yesterday unpacking and displaying books and other media for the Halls of Holly Fair bookroom at church. I found a few treasures for myself, including a cassette tape put out by SW Wisconsin Mailorder Co. that has Christmas song parodies that will relate to Onkel Hankie Pants' seasonal job -- things like "Santa Got Run Over by a Forklift" and "Here Come Packages." Should be fun.

Then, after spending a little while chatting with Brother #1, we attended an art show opening! The Photographer has taken a lot of photos of my old high school (scheduled for demolition in the spring) and it's a great show. Here's the poster:

I can credit Rusty for my being able to mount the three flights of stairs to the gallery without having to rest in the middle, as I did the last time relatives had a show there (pre-Rusty and his health-giving daily walks).

After that, we went up the street to celebrate The Expert's 30th birthday, with a delicious dinner of paneer steaks, roasted potatoes and salad, followed by chocolate cake, all prepared by my niece, Polar Bear Artist. Here is a photo of one of her latest creations (she of course draws many more things than just polar bears, but does the college mascot quite frequently for her employer):

Two very tired people came home, and Onkel Hankie Pants sensibly went to bed. I stayed up to check in on Friday Five posts, and then noticed that Rusty had come into the office with a bar of soap from the shower! He was very protective of the soap although he quickly deposited it on the carpet; he growled and made the "bad face" when I remonstrated with him about the inadvisability of dogs eating soap. I was quite mystified by this odd behavior. But, I was also tired, so I went to the kitchen to turn out the light and then was able to come back and retrieve the soap. Rusty followed me into the bathroom and then stood looking at the (closed) toilet rather meaningfully. Came the dawn! I went to check his water dish and it was bone dry. He jumped happily as I was filling it and then drank for quite a while. I will leave it to you to sort out the doggy thought processes that led him to bring soap to tell me he wanted water....

Now I'm off to the actual sale. We are slashing prices in an effort to have as many books, videos, cds, cassettes, and games move out of the church and into people's homes and the several small island libraries in the vicinity as possible.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Five: Remembrance

Over at RevGalBlogPals, Sophia, formerly known as Mother Laura, posts:
Earlier this week the U.S. celebrated Veterans' Day, known in many other countries as Remembrance Day. At this time last year I was commuting to a postdoc in Canada, and I was moved by the many red poppies that showed up there on people's lapels in honor of the observance. Unlike a flag lapel pin, which to me has political connotations and implies approval of our current war, the poppies simply honor the sacrifice and dedication of those who have followed their consciences by serving--sometimes dying--in the military.

This week's Friday Five invites reflection on the theme of remembrance, which is also present in the feasts of All Saints, celebrated in many liturgical churches on November 1, and All Souls--known in Latin@ cultures as the Day of the Dead--celebrated in some the following day. 

1. Did your church have any special celebrations for All Saints/All Soul's Day?
Yes. The names of the members who died in the past year were read, a candle was lighted and a bell rung. Also, the music related to All Saints, especially a beautiful choir piece called Lux Aeterna by Morton Lauridsen.

2. How about Veterans' Day?
Nothing last week that I recall. It could be we'll mark it this Sunday -- last Sunday was busy about stewardship. Last year, veterans were asked to stand and be thanked, so I and Onkel Hankie Pants did, among many others.

3. Did you and your family have a holiday for Veterans' Day/Remembrance Day? If so, how did you take advantage of the break?
I don't have a job, and Onkel Hankie Pants went to his seasonal work at Iconic Maine Business that night as usual. 

4. Is there a veteran in your life, living or dead, whose dedication you remember and celebrate? Or perhaps a loved one presently serving in the armed forces?
My father was a career soldier and served in WWII and Korea. He didn't have any sense of it as a high calling, in fact he would sometimes say "I'm just a hired gun." He almost never told war stories. In recent years, I've heard some reminiscences from some of OHP's relatives who were in WWII -- at Anzio, and other scary places. I've also read quite a few, most recently the late Tony Hillerman's autobiography where he tells about his experiences during the last years of the war in Europe as an infantryman. Pretty much everything I've read and heard leads me to believe that in most cases, a soldier/sailor/airman/marine fights primarily, not for some high ideal of country or cause, but for the comrades in his/her platoon, ship, or whatever. And I don't see anything wrong with that, in fact it is probably a healthier way to be.

5. Do you have any personal rituals which help you remember and connect with loved ones who have passed on?
I wouldn't call it ritual. But whenever I think of them, or something reminds me, or I talk about them with others, the connection is there. Sometimes it's as simple as a recipe -- when a friend of my mother's was here the other day she mentioned making Wacky Cake (the chocolate cake with no eggs), a recipe she got from my mother. We remembered her that day.

Note: The photo is from Flickr, by someone who goes by the name Tall Guy. It made me think of the poem "In Flanders Fields" by Col. John McCrae.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Reading the Local News

Our local newspaper, five days a week, keeps me informed about who has been born and died, what the Town Council's latest befuddlement might be, what's going on in terms of bean suppers, Christmas bazaars, art and theater, and -- something you probably don't get in a larger daily paper -- the local arrests and disposition of court cases.

When we first moved back here, I became rather alarmed at the thought that, apparently, nearly every driver we were likely to encounter on the roads was either operating under the influence or operating with a suspended license. This was because I would see lists of such drivers several times a week in the local paper. But, as we continued to drive without incident, I realized that the proportion of illegal drivers was probably the same in City of Lakes; but there, we would only hear about such a driver if he or she was involved in a fatal accident or a high-speed police chase. Maine actually has a famously low crime rate. But, we still have some miscreants, and some of them are quite intriguing. Today's paper noted a man, old enough to know better certainly, who was in trouble for "engaging in activities while suspended." HMMM! What KIND of activities? And suspended from WHAT? The mind boggles!

The headlines in our local paper are sometimes unintentionally funny (sometimes intentionally, too, for that matter).  Today, I learned that "Bowdoinham Mulls Sludge."  I'd rather mull cider, myself. And Onkel Hankie Pants was distressed to learn that "Supermarket Supports Freeport Elders' Drive to Replace Aging Coach."  He thought this showed insufficient solidarity among senior citizens, until he read further and learned that the "aging coach" was not a soccer or baseball mentor, but a bus used to take the Elders on trips to Reny's, Marden's, and the Christmas Tree Shops (three good places to get real bargains, none of which have outlets in Freeport).  

So, that's the extent of my deep thinking for today. It's turned into a grey, cloudy afternoon, and we are expecting rain.  I think I'll remake the bed with flannel sheets before bedtime.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another Meme (since I have nothing exciting to report)

Celeste tagged me for this meme and I have been lazy about doing it. I actually did it some time back so I had to go back and check the random facts so I don't end up repeating myself.
Here are the rules, which I am breaking:
1. Link to the tagger and post the rules.
2. List seven random facts about yourself.
3. Tag seven more people. (This is the one I'm breaking, because I'm running out of people to tag. Y'all friends who don't blog have to get on the ball! However, feel free to list facts in a comment.)

Here are my random facts:

1. I can't swim or ride a bicycle, although I've had people try to teach me to do both.
2. I attended five different elementary schools in three states and a foreign country.
3. I can't stop buying Christmas music (see photo above)
4. I have a large collection of what I call "How to Be Perfect" books -- books on organization, how to dress, how to decorate, how to run your life. It's not clear they have worked.
5. I now write a short review of each book I read and post them on Goodreads, DorothyL, or both.
6. My dog, who weighs 55 lbs., sits in my lap. (See photo below, I love how he looks when standing up looking out the window.)

7. My cat, who weighs about 5 lbs., does not.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Molly had a silly meme to create my own random band name and album cover art. the rules are:

1. Band Name: Random Wikipeda Link

2. Album Title: Random quote generator (take the last four words from the first quote on the page)

3. Album Art: Flickr Interesting Photo (pick one)

So, here you have it.

My band is "The Strange Procession Which never Moves."
Our latest album is "To Us As Well."
The album cover art is in the corner. I really liked this photo, just wish the person had had a better cookie, this one looks like a cheap store-bought one.

Election Wrap-Up

I'm not sure I've been successful yet in removing the Decision 2008 widget from the sidebar. If it's still there, you may have noticed that North Carolina is no longer grey. Its electoral votes went to Barack Obama, by a very slim (in the low hundreds) vote margin.  I attribute this to Onkel Hankie Pants's cousin's daughter, who has been working very hard there in a responsible position for the Obama campaign (there is more about her on her aunt Julie's blog, also referenced in my blogroll).

Although there were some grave disappointments (especially Prop. 8 in California, and the stupid Fed Up with Taxes referendum here) and some cliff-hangers still pending (Franken-Coleman-Barkley in Minnesota), I can hardly remember an election when so much of the voting went "my way." Wheeee!  Yes, Republican Susan Collins is still in the Senate. I can't say this is a bad thing, although I voted for her opponent. I am represented in Congress by 3 women now -- Democrat Chellie Pingree in the House and Collins and Olympia Snowe in the Senate. Collins and Snowe are the kind of moderate, reasonable Republicans who are all too rare nowadays, and I don't believe they will be filibustering any time soon just to be obstructive.  If the Republican Party has good sense (always a questionmark), they will move toward a Collins-Snowe style and substance, and forget this Palin-2012 nonsense.

Many other bloggers have mentioned that they feel at loose ends now after spending so much time thinking about the election and reading all the political news.  There are a lot of challenges ahead, and the President, Vice-President, and Congress can't meet them alone. It's time for all of us to be thinking about what we can do to be the change we seek.

Friday Five: Funny Papers

After an exhausting election here in the states it's time for some spirit lifting! Join me with a nice cup of tea or coffee or cocoa and let's sit back and read the Funny Papers!

1. What was your favorite comic strip as a child?
I read them all, to the extent that I spent a fair amount of childhood with greyish-black elbows from the days when newspaper ink rubbed off....I have to confess to enjoying Beetle Bailey and Sad Sack because my father was in the Army.

2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone?
Unfortunately I can't remember its name right now -- later today I can come back and edit it in, after the paper comes. It's recycling day this morning. Anyway, it's a newer one with mostly dogs as characters and the occasional cat. Many of their concerns are those of dogs and cats -- for instance one I remember dealt with how dogs know people by their smells.
I also like For Better, For Worse, and Doonesbury, which are not always necessarily funny.

3. Which Peanuts character is closest to being you?
My kids would probably say, the grown-up character in the tv shows who says "Blah, blah, blah."  I think Schroeder, who is off in his own little world much of the time and only relates to Lucy, etc. when he's forced to.

4. Some say that comic strips have replaced philosophy as a paying job, so to speak. Does this ring true with you?
Very likely. Although I don't know to what extent philosophy was ever a paying job! The NYTimes Book Review recently featured a collection of Jules Feiffer's cartoons that would certainly fit into the philosophy category, and there are some other cartoonists, especially working in alternative papers, who do quite a bit of philosophizing -- again I can't remember the name of the one I'm thinking of. 

5. What do you think the appeal is for the really long running comic strips like Blondie, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace as some examples? 
Familiarity, I suppose. I don't think we get those (we get a 5-day local paper and a Sunday close-to-local paper, and the Sunday Times but I skip over the "comic strip" in their magazine). There doesn't seem to be much new in them, and aren't the original creators all dead?  

Bonus question: Which discontinued comic strip would you like to see back in print?
Well, it's not a comic strip as such, but I always enjoyed The Far Side by Gary Larson. He retired from the cartoon in 1995. While looking this up I found that there's a two-volume set in a slipcase of all the Far Side cartoons for $150.00. Put that on my list of "Things I Don't Need that Would Be Really Cool to Have."

See you in the funny papers!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Election Day!

This morning began around 6:30 am when Rusty decided it was time for people to get up. He did his usual trick of jumping loudly beside the bed. When that got no response, he jumped up on the bed and began licking Onkel Hankie Pants's ears and face. Shortly thereafter they went out for their morning walk and I heard Heidi meowing to come out of the basement. So I got up and made some coffee. Not much could be accomplished before 8 am except showering, feeding the dog, and drinking coffee. I was therefore surprised to note someone coming to the door about 7:45, at least two hours too early to be the mailcarrier. Instead, of course, it was this:
At about 5 minutes past eight, I departed the house on my way to Union St. School, our polling place (about two short blocks away). On the way I met Quaker Cousin, who had already voted -- she said she was 35th in line when the polls opened!
Union St. School, while it was once the neighborhood elementary school for those who didn't attend St. John's Parochial School, is now the Alternative High School and also houses the Superintendent's office. I've already voted there several times since we moved back to Maine, so I was expecting this sign:
Entrance to the addition where voting takes place is gained by a wooden ramp used by all, whatever our state of mobility. The line was all the way down the ramp, and I spotted my niece, Polar Bear Artist, a few people away from the doorway. She called to me that I was in luck because the judges were looking for people with surnames beginning M-Z, and sure enough, as I neared the ramp a judge came out and I was able to walk right in ! For some reason our district (a town division rather like a precinct) includes two State legislative districts, so one judge asks your name and checks you off, then announces it loudly with the addition of "66" or "63." I got my two ballots and went to the booth. We still use paper ballots in Maine, thank goodness; a marking pen is provided to connect two halves of an arrow next to the chosen candidates. I found only one surprise on the ballot; there were two open seats on the County Charter Commission, and two people running for them. As a reward for their civic-mindedness I voted for them.
The other night I was talking with The Photographer after a candidates' night (Town Council) that her neighborhood association sponsored, and she mentioned a concern about the ballots that I thought at the time was unlikely to be a problem. In Maine, the Presidential candidates are listed alphabetically, and the Vice-Presidential candidates are not listed at all. Our choices were, in alphabetical order, McCain, McKinney (Green), Nader, and Obama. Then there was a line with an arrow next to it in case someone wanted to cast a write-in vote. The Photographer said some people casting absentee ballots had been confused by this and filled in two arrows, invalidating their votes. Lo and behold, just while I was in the polling place, two people did this! However, since the ballot-counting machine immediately rejected their ballots, they were able to get new ones and correct their mistakes. Onkel Hankie Pants, who voted later in the day, reported that a note had been taped to each voting desk explaining that only one vote could be cast for each office (except the aforementioned charter commission).
Anyway, I didn't make any mistakes, and I got my sticker:
On the way out, I stopped to take a picture of the line; my niece had just stepped into the building! I don't know why our district has such a preponderance of people whose names begin with A-L.
Now I'm suffering a bit because it's only 5:30 and the election news doesn't start on MPBN until 7:00. I did enjoy the early reports from Dixville Notch and Hart's Location, the two tiny New Hampshire towns who vote just after midnight. Both towns, which went for Bush in 2004, voted about 2-1 for Obama.
I downloaded the widget from MSNBC, but in my sidebar (at least on Chrome) it cuts off New England. You can see a bigger version on Reflectionary. By the way, Southern friends, why do the polls close so early down your way?